Speaking Kindly of the Departed
Volunteers come and go. Episodic volunteers serve for a weekend or a few hours. How do you talk about them when they are gone? Do you praise the work they did? Do remember the funny moments? Or do you talk about them in negative terms, letting everyone know that if they were smart they would still be with the organization?
One way to increase morale among volunteers is to speak highly of those who have gone before. This sends the message to new folks that this is a place that encourages personal development and even admires people who have moved on to new things. If volunteers started with an entry level position and are now on the board of directors, that is cause for celebration.
Positive attitudes begat positive attitudes. Volunteers tell friends that this is a terrific place to volunteer. Remember the single most effective recruiting method is word of mouth. So having happy volunteers, bragging about a program works for you when it comes time to ask for help.
Pick a comfortable location. Interview sites should put prospective
volunteers at ease, not add to anxiety. Check out furniture, lighting,
heat/cooling, how the room represents the organization, chairs for
comfort and ease of getting in and out for all sizes of people.
Let the potential volunteer talk. Resist the temptation to talk
about the wonderfulness of the program and how the person
will fit in! This is the time to listen. Ask non-directive questions
to get the person talking. Make sure they are related to job duties
or qualifications. Put on your listening hat.
Never set false expectations. Be honest and clear about the position the person will fill. A primary reason that volunteers falter in their responsibilities is a misunderstanding of what is really expected. The position is not what they believe it was going to be and they behave accordingly.
Customer Service Reference
Some volunteers provide customer service support. They answer phones, greet customers, visitors, or patrons, or direct people to locations in a large facility. An important skill for these folks is positive communication with the public.
whether a prospective volunteer is good at customer service, consider
asking for references from people who have seen them engage in customer
service. The references can come from another organization where the
person served in a public contact position, but ask the applicant
to supply the name of a customer (or two) they served in a previous
position. Then ask the reference open-ended questions about their
working relationship with the volunteer applicant, such as:
Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Volunteer Screening: An Audio Workbook and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing Approach, by author and managing editor Nancy Macduff. For more information, check out these books and more at our online bookstore.
DAILY POINTS OF LIGHT AWARD FORMS AVAILABLE
The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.
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